Personal Injury Case When You Are at Fault
On a surface level, it seems like one party is always responsible for an accident and the other party is the victim who is left to face hardships as a result of the accident. In reality, when accidents occur in New York, the issue of liability is almost more complex. Whether it is a car accident, slip and fall, or any other type of personal injury accident, when people are injured in New York, there are often several parties who played a role in causing the accident. If you have been impacted by an accident, you might also be worried that the role you played in causing an accident will prevent you from obtaining compensation. In reality, accident victims are often able to obtain compensation even if they contributed to an accident.
The Role of Comparative Negligence in New York
Different states have different methods of handling accidents when multiple parties are liable. New York follows the comparative negligence doctrine, which applies to cases in which there are more than one responsible party. Before understanding this principle, however, it helps to understand that negligence occurs when one individual acts carelessly and either directly or indirectly causes injury or harm to another. Courts often find that a person is negligent when that individual is determined to have failed to exercise ordinary prudence toward a person to whom they owed a duty of care.
The Assumption of the Risk Doctrine
Before understanding contributory negligence in New York, it also helps to understand the role of assumption of the risk. A person involved in a personal injury accident has a complete defense if the victim expressly assumed the risk associated with an activity. For example, if your child plays on a youth football team and is injured while playing, the opposing team cannot be found liable. Consenting to events that caused either apparent or reasonably foreseeable injuries, however, differs from consenting to concealed, unassumed, or unforeseeable injuries.
Assumption of the risk in New York applies in three different ways. First, the primary assumption of the risk occurs when the risk in participating in an activity is obvious to any reasonable person because the risk of bodily harm is commonly associated with the activity. Second, express agreements occur when a person signs his or her name to a document indicating that the individual understands the risks and releases the other party from obligations. Third, implied assumption of risk occurs when a person’s consent to assume risk is implied from their actions based on reasonable expectations.
How New York Law Addresses Negligence
When multiple parties are alleged to have played a role in an accident, New York law focuses on deciding to what degree these actors were negligent. If a person is partially responsible for an accident, this is referred to as contributory negligence. While some stars recognize contributory negligence as a bar to receiving compensation, New York is not one of these states.
New York law addressing negligence is found in section 1411 of New York’s Civil Practice Laws and Rules. This regulation states that in addition to recovering damages for personal injuries, property damage, or wrongful deaths, the culpable conduct that is attributed to an entity including contributory negligence or assumption of the risk does not bar recovery. Instead, the amount of compensation that is recoverable is reduced by the proportion attributable to the party that caused the damages. This statute means that accident victims in New York are not blocked from obtaining compensation for damages even if they are partially for an accident. While New York’s comparative negligence law often means that it is easier to pursue compensation, this regulation also makes many personal injury lawsuits much more challenging.
How Fault is Assessed in Comparative Negligence Cases
Judges or juries in New York determine how much fault should be attributed to parties. This determination must be backed up by evidence as well as drawn from a legal basis. Extensive New York case law provides courts with guidelines, but each judge and jury must make its own assessment based on the facts of the case. To navigate these complex issues, the assistance of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney is often critical. This is because, under this comparative negligence system, even a slight difference in the percentage of fault can result in sizable differences in the amount of compensation that an accident victim ultimately receives. The party that is the defendant in the lawsuit must prove negligence and often rely on comparative negligence to reduce the amount of compensation that they are ultimately required to pay.
Common Examples of Comparative Causation in New York Accident Cases
If someone else was responsible for your accident, it can be difficult to review how the accident occurred and decide that you played a role in causing your injuries. Unfortunately, even if you fail to consider this possibility, New York courts often assess that a victim was partially at fault for an accident. Some of the most common examples of ways in which New York courts find that a victim is partially responsible for an accident include:
- A victim failed to wear a seatbelt or a helmet.
- A victim who was hit by a car crossed the street in a non-designated area.
- A victim was intoxicated at the time he or she slipped and fell on a service.
- A victim misused a product that later caused an injury
- The victim was driving over the speed limit at the time the accident occurred
- A person went against the advice of a medical professional regarding treatment or prescription
Some courts have found that if a victim’s behavior was wrong but did not contribute to the accident that damages should not be reduced. Navigating these and other comparative negligence issues are often difficult, which makes the skill and assistance of a seasoned personal injury attorney vital.
Contact an Experienced Long Island Personal Injury Accident Attorney
Even if someone else is responsible for your accident, pursuing compensation can still be challenging. Fortunately, a skilled Long Island accident lawyer can help. Contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe LLP today to schedule a free case evaluation.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900